Oil company visualizes its future

FakeSpace Systems and SGI are shedding a lot of light on the oil exploration business in western Canada.

Murphy Oil Company in Calgary announced Monday that it will be the first to try out the combined efforts of Kitchener, Ont.-based FakeSpace Systems and California-based SGI and their new super-bright digital stereo visualization system, especially made for energy resource exploration.

This system, which is the first active stereo digital projection system purchased for use in exploration, lets scientists from different disciplines work together in a collaborative visualization environment. That makes for a better exchange of ideas, says Duncan McMaster, general manager of East Coast Exploration at Murphy Oil Company.

“This is going to facilitate collaboration between the various disciplines,” he said. “Instead of looking at a small individual screen, it will get the engineers and managers and scientists all together and looking at data.”

Murphy Oil Corporation, with main headquarters in El Dorado, Ark., had already installed the 8-foot by 16-foot FakeSpace Systems WorkWall, which enables groups to interact with seismic data together, instead of just viewing the data passively. The system is about 25 times brighter than its predecessors, which allows scientists to see the screen and keep the lights on in the room where they are working.

“It’s good for development and exploration,” McMaster said. “It should lessen the cycle time for interpretation so we can analyze data sets a lot more quickly.”

Bill Bartling, the director at SGI’s Global Energy Solutions department, said Murphy’s move to create the visualization facility puts them in a much bigger league.

“Visualization technology is something a lot of large businesses have adopted,” he said. “It’s a bit of a revolution that we are starting to see a lot of momentum behind.”

Bartling identified quality and quantity as the major new features of the facility.

“It will be able to display very, very large amounts of data and it will be able to do that in the context of the large screen format to include collaboratively a lot different kinds of people working together on the same product,” he said.

Jeff Brum, marketing manager for FakeSpace Systems, said the installation of the system should mean more effective selection of drill sites for the future.

“It’s a means of exploring underground seismic data in an efficient fashion with groups of people for the purpose of more effectively selecting drill sites,” he said. “There were many consultations with the customer so we could understand what it is that they wanted to accomplish. We had to look at how they wanted to work with data. What level of interaction do they want? What is their end result with this?”

The end result is graphic capability that shows complex three-dimensional deep-water data. The higher- resolution WorkWall display is based on two active stereo Digital Light Processing projectors to provide brighter and more stable display for dimensionally accurate viewing.

“You can work with the lights on and the colours are more dynamic,” Brum said. “It’s a dramatic improvement.”

But projects of this size don’t come without their challenges, as both McMaster and Bartling will tell you.

“Typically companies try to build this into an existing room so you need to customize to some degree, so that is a design challenge that is done in partnership with SGI and FakeSpace,” Bartling said. “A lot of the time is spent waiting for parts for the thing to be built, and the installation happens very, very quickly.”

“It’s operational now, there’s a learning curve on learning all the bells and whistles, but I would say it would be fully operational in four to six months,” McMaster added.

Mountain View, Calif.-based SGI Inc is at http://www.sgi.com

Kitchener-based FakeSpace Systems is at http://www.fakespacesystems.com

El Dorado, Ark.-based Murphy’s Oil Corporation is at www.murphyoilcorp.com